First of all: of course we know it's nothing of the sort - it's using an EV (electronic vapouriser) to vape. The hardware has no possible relationship to a tobacco cigarette, and inhaling a water-based vapour has no relationship to smoke inhalation.
An EV (ecig if you prefer) is a metal tube (usually) or box, with a battery and a nebuliser, often with electronic controls, a liquid reservoir, or other features. There is no tobacco, no ignition, no combustion, and no smoke. It produces a water-based aerosol, very similar to the function of an asthma inhaler but re-engineered to replicate smoke as far as possible without being smoke. There are no possible functional comparisons to a tobacco cigarette; indeed, optimal use of an EV is different in every way from cigarette use. Both are inserted in the mouth, but after that there are no similarities.
The water-based aerosol produced is not smoke, and cannot be described as smoke no matter the tortured methodology employed to do so (for the purpose of indoor use bans, for example). The State Attorney General of Virginia, USA - notably more honest than his AG colleagues - stated firmly that ecig vapor is not smoke and cannot be defined as smoke in law. The vapour is deliberately differentiated from asthma treatment aerosols in order to try to replicate smoking: by making the water droplets visible, by flavoring the vapor, by giving it a throat hit where required, and by addition of nicotine to deliver cigarette-like results. It may look like smoke, and it may resemble smoke in its feel, but it isn't smoke. You cannot smoke an ecig.
We have to use smoking-related terms in order to increase our user base. It will not always be necessary to do so, and perhaps the break point will come at around 25% of smoker conversions: the point at which a quarter of smokers have switched, and public knowlege of the equipment and practice will be widespread.
The problem currently is that unless the term 'electronic cigarette' or 'e-cigarette' is used, no one will (a) have a clue what you are talking about, (b) be able to find the products with a web search, or (c) want to switch from smoking.
To examine these, point by point:
a. If you ask the average smoker if they would like to try an EV, or a PV, or a vapouriser - they won't have a clue what you are talking about. Try it. Since they are the only people who you want to interest in the product, or the switch to something safer, or the lifestyle choice, this means you're finished before you start.
b. Nobody will be able to find the community, the forums or the vendors on the web. This could be a problem because the only way we will survive against the giant commercial interests who want to remove us is by the numbers game: getting in as many people as possible, in as short a time as possible, and getting them as engaged as possible. To do that, you have to market vaping as an alternative to smoking. Marketing means using methods that optimise conversions. The use of a term such as 'e-cigarette' is purely marketing, since it has no possible relationship to the metal, battery-powered, liquid nebuliser it loosely refers to. Let's be clear about this: 'electronic cigarette' is a marketing ploy with no real application to the product being described.
c. Finally, and most importantly perhaps, smokers are not interested in quitting, they want to keep going without the harm. You can forget about the ridiculous results of surveys that say things like, "Most smokers want to quit". Of course they don't: they want to keep smoking, but without any consequences. That's why the questions in these surveys are always wrong, and probably deliberately so. If instead we asked a far more sensible and realistic question: "Would you like to keep smoking but with a 99.9% reduction in risk and also at only 25% of the cost?", then 10,000 smokers would immediately be screaming "Yes, yes, please YES" in your ear. Understandably.
Smokers don't want to quit, they want to keep smoking but safer and cheaper. This is why vaping is so successful. But: initially, they are only interested in something that is smoking, but cheaper and safer, and it needs to be called something related to smoking. They only want to try something if it looks, feels, and tastes like a cigarette. They are only interested as long as it appears to be a safe, cheap, cigarette.
Try asking smokers who you know to be completely unaware of vaping in any way this question: "Would you like to quit smoking and change to a nebuliser?" You can guarantee a 90% reply of "No thanks". Instead, ask: "Would you consider changing to a type of cigarette that was 99.9% safer and 75% cheaper and a pretty good replacement?" Now you will get a 90% "OK hit me up" reply.
Now do you understand marketing?
If you want hardly anyone to try a new idea, then go about promoting it the wrong way. If you want millions to use it, you'll have to go with the flow even when you know the terms used are not accurate. Maybe later on people will accept that the thing they are using is not a horseless carriage, it's an automobile. And then you can find an even better word like car.
Right now we need the numbers or we will be crushed. This needs to be a voting issue ASAP - millions of lives are at stake. We can worry about the niceties later.
Not in any measurable way - that is, measurable in policy terms. It doesn't matter what we call vaping, because there are immense financial pressures to remove ecigs; they are a dangerous threat to the smoking money machine, and every man's hand is against us. The smoking economy is immensely powerful, and controls health policy and the legislative process in any area that impacts it.
You don't need to worry about what most people say or think, the only people who matter are those who make the laws. And many of them are bought and paid for: anywhere you see a voice raised against ecigs, you can see the power of the smoking economy.
If we called it 'vapourising' and never called it 'e-smoking'; if we called the hardware 'EVs' exclusively and never used 'e-cigarette'; if we called it 'smoking cessation liquid' not 'e-liquid'; if we used nicotine extracted from vegetables, or synthetic nicotine - it would not matter a jot: they would change the law to suit.
They have to remove us or cripple us because a lot of very well-paid jobs depend on it, and they need to keep those big bucks rolling in. This has nothing to do with health, and nothing to do with words.
It's all about the money and nothing else.
Please don't be distracted into worrying about perceptions of the health issues or any such matters - these are simply diversions. The problem we face is simple: everyone who has power and influence in this debate earns a lot of money from smoking. The only possible way we can counter that is with a very large number of boots on the ground. When we have 50 million vapers and the voting power that this will give us, then at that stage we can worry about nice names.
Until then we need the numbers, and anything else is only of marginal interest.